Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Vote Ed, get Nigel..

Labour entered the immigration arms race with a quick one-two from Yvette Cooper and Rachel Reeves. 1,000 new border guards to keep the illegal immigrants out, promised Ms Cooper, and a two year wait to claim benefits for the rest, Ms Reeves pledged on the Mail's website.
The papers aren't impressed. "Spectacularly disingenuous" is our leader's verdict. The Times is left cold by Ms Cooper's focus on the need for "progressive reforms" to prevent migrants being employed on below the minimum wage and on high rents. "Not many of those who are concerned about the level of immigration are secretly worrying that migrants are not being paid well enough," is their verdict. "This," the Mail thunders, "was the day Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper earned herself a volume of her own in the annals of jaw-dropping political opportunism and hypocrisy".
It hasn't won Labour many friends among what Ms Cooper calls as the "liberal commentators" either. "Self-defeating cynicism" is David Aaronovitch's line. "Miliband is turning into a charmless, voteless Blair" sighs Nick Cohen. "I wonder how many UK lefties and liberals are looking again at the Greens tonight, after Labour's day of dog-whistling," Mehdi Hasan asks.  Whatever happened to pledging not to "out-Ukip Ukip", Dan Hodges wonders in his column
It's not as bad as all that, is Andy Grice's take in the i: Ed Miliband has "positioned his party in the middle of the spectrum, while the Tories struggle to be the toughest of them all". It's a "third way", he suggests. But the problem with Labour's third way is it doesn't go anywhere. 
As our leader points out, the "inevitable question is: why did Labour not do any of this while in power?" Not only is Mr Miliband the leader of the party that was in office when immigration was its height but he was a key player in the backroom for most of it. In any case, "I would have stopped the boats at Calais but I was too busy teaching politics at Harvard" is not exactly the stuff Prime Ministers are made of.  Whatever Labour might want to pretend today, they're the party of immigration. They can lose friends pretending otherwise but they certainly won't get any new ones. 

The PM suffered his first legislative defeat in the Commons over a backbench amendment to the Small Business and Enterprise and Employment Bill in what has been described as a "historic victory" for pub landlords. The amendment could set landlords free from the "beer tie", which limits landlords on on the purchase of drinks from competitors and limits freedom-of-rent agreements, and, according to the Campaign for Real Ale, will help keep pubs open and affordable. (Elizabeth Anderson has the details
The defeat has put the spotlight on Michael Gove's grip as Chief Whip, as several Conservative ministers missed the vote. But the bulk of the rebels were drawn from the Liberal Democrat side, in a victory for Greg Mulholland, the Liberal MP and head of the Save the Pub campaign, and Toby Perkins, Labour's shadow small business minister, who has been quietly working with the rebels for some time. As Chris Hope reports, it's not just Mr Gove with uncomfortable questions to answer. A prolonged spell on the sofa could beckon for Duncan Hames, who rebelled against the motion. The minister in charge of the legislation, Jo Swinson, is married to Mr Hames. 
Mark Reckless has suggested that Eastern Europeans working in Britain could be forced to return home in the event that Britain votes to leave the European Union, Laura Pitel and Ellie Amodio report in the Times, but "people who have been here a long time and integrated in that way I think we'd want to look sympathetically at". Naushabah Khan, the Labour candidate, whose father is a first-generation migrant, asked just how far back such a process might go. It's "the first time Ukip have been forced on the defensive" in the campaign, the BBC's Norman Smith says. Elsewhere, Ms Khan saysthat Labour must tell "a story about hope" in order to defeat Ukip across the country.
After being struck dumb by Myleene Klass, formerly of the pop band Hear'Say, when she said that in London a £2m house was "like a garage", before pointing at a glass of water and suggesting that "you might as well tax that", Ed Miliband has hit back on Twitter, Georgia Graham reports, saying that the tax is "Pure and Simple", in a dig at Ms Klass' one-hit wonder of the same name. "Now Red Ed makes an even BIGGER twit of himself in his Klass war with Myleene" is the Mail's take, while the Guardian has the somewhat more sympathetic "Miliband bruised in Klass war over tax".  "A man wanting to be Prime Minister shouldn't be taken ab apart by a pop star in a TV debate about politics," is the Sun's take in their leader.
Alex Salmond stepped down as First Minister yesterday, saying that"better days lie ahead" for Scotland and suggesting that the four year break he took from 2000 to 2004 allowed him to come back and win power at Holyrood in 2011 and 2014, which must come as a somewhat unwelcome message to Nicola Sturgeon, his successor. I've taken a look at what the SNP's surge and the Liberal collapse - their rating in today's Opinium is their lowest of the parliament with any pollster - might do on a seat-by-seat basis to Scottish Labour.  
Another Coalition row. Danny Alexander tells the Parliamentary Press Gallery's monthly lunch that George Osborne padlocks his fridge to prevent him stealing the milk, but Treasury aides have hit back. They say key is kept on top of the fridge and that Mr Alexander can open the lock should he so desire. Chris Hope has the story

You can get in touch with me by pressing "reply" or on Twitter. Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams - a gallery of his work is available here.  
Conservatives 32% Labour 33% Liberal Democrats 7% Ukip 15% Green 7%  (Ashcroft-Opinium-Populus-YouGov, 12.11.2014-19.11.2014)
Opinium: Conservatives 34% Labour 33% Liberal Democrat 5% Ukip 18% Green 5%
YouGov: Conservatives 32%, Labour 34%, Liberal Democrats 7%, Ukip 15% Green 6%
@johnpmcdermott: Where is the end pt for EU migrants and benefits? What else can we restrict: jam, hats, mammalian pets, Cafe Nero loyalty card ...
From the Telegraph
James Kirkup - Conservative optimism has given way to doom and gloom
Mary Riddell - Our housing crisis will dominate the political agenda for decades
From elsewhere
Daniel Finkelstein - They didn't listen to him then. They must now(Times)
Rafael Behr - A lesson for Labour from the people of Rochester(Guardian)

1200 LONDON: Prime Ministers Questions.